Almost anyone would agree that drinking while driving poses serious risks to other road users. If people get into accidents while drunk or face charges, public opinion generally stands against them. When it comes to texting and driving, people have a more relaxed approach. Most people agree this also poses risks, but few people believe it is as dangerous as drinking while driving.
The NHTSA identifies many different forms of distracted driving. This includes driving while eating or talking on the phone. However, it ranks texting while driving as the most serious concern.
Texting is deadly
Texting while driving led to the death of 2,841 people in 2018. The NHTSA feels most concerned about teens. However, it also acknowledges that parents need to set an example for children to mirror. Employers and educators may also play a role in creating campaigns that may discourage students and employees from texting while driving. In fact, some companies that provide company vehicles now have driver-facing cameras installed to detect this.
The bad behavior continues
Still, many researchers worry that education may not resolve the real problem. One study published by the AAA Foundation found that most people believe texting while driving is dangerous, but they do it anyway. In the study, 96% of drivers labeled driving while typing a text message as extremely dangerous. Yet, 43% of respondents involved in a crash in the past month and 27% not involved in a crash reported texting while driving.
If drivers already know an activity poses a risk but continue to engage in it, what can education alone achieve? Appealing to the emotions with stories of personal loss and adults modeling better driving behaviors may have a greater impact.